IFS speaks the right language for Africa
The growing focus on the use of technology throughout the African aviation industry is starting to attract the attention of one of the world's leading software companies. Steve Knight reports from the IFS World Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The civil aviation maintenance and support market is changing with increased use of contracted-out services, power-by-the-hour deals, pressure for standardisation, demand for agility to be able to handle continuous improvement, and new technologies.
And let’s not forget traceability, compliance, and risk management and support for the entire asset lifecycle – all key requirements of operators, suppliers and service providers alike.
IFS, a globally recognised leader in developing and delivering software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and enterprise service management (ESM), has built and deployed solutions with capabilities that cover all aspects of the lifecycle of aircraft, engines and aircraft components.
The company boasts more than 2,800 employees supporting over a million users worldwide from its network of local offices and through a growing ecosystem of partners.
Its applications cover, among other things, fleet and asset management; maintenance repair & overhaul (MRO) including heavy maintenance, complex assembly and component control; enterprise operational intelligence; and supply chain and warehouse management.
The company has a significant presence in most areas of the world and admits, at least from the aerospace side, that it’s focus is shifting east towards the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region.
However, it also recognises the vast potential of Africa.
In the aerospace and defence sector, probably it’s most significant deal on the continent so far has been with Saab Grintek Defence in South Africa.
A year ago, the software company announced that Saab had chosen to deploy IFS Applications 9 – the new core version of its extended enterprise applications suite – both at its aeronautics unit and within its South African operations.
“We became interested in IFS Applications 9 and its capabilities to help global enterprises ensure improved cost efficiency,” explained Saab CIO, Mats Hultin, at the time.
Now IFS, which has offices in Centurion, South Africa, is eyeing up other possible projects on the continent.
“The burgeoning African MRO market is an obvious target for us,” admitted Luis Ortega, IFS managing director, Middle East, Africa and South Asia. He also pointed out that fleet management and working on systems at some of the world’s newest airports were also on the company’s radar.
“We have been working with Tibah Airports (a joint venture lead by TAV with its local partners Al Rajhi Holdings and Saudi Oger) of Turkey at the award-winning Madinah (Medina) Airport,” explained Ortega. The airport was awarded leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) gold certification for the recent terminal expansion from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).
Ortega’s fleet management point was quickly picked up by Graham Grose, IFS industry director for aerospace and defense.
Speaking about the company’s new Tail Planning Optimization and Assignment solution, which has been implemented by Emirates Airline and was jointly launched in Gothenburg and at the Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference in Bangkok, he said: “The solution maximizes fuel savings by reducing maintenance inefficiency through better allocation of aircraft to long-haul routes and assigning an aircraft for maintenance, within the maintenance window. It will play a key role in helping airlines achieve business goals and grow even further in what is an extremely competitive market.
“As a global leader in the aviation industry, IFS looks forward to continuing to work with airlines across the globe.”
He was speaking just hours after details of the Emirates support were unveiled in Gothenburg.
IFS has, admitted Ortega, recently been in discussions about its various products in many different African counties – although working on the continent is not always easy.
“I believe there are something like 360 different languages and dialects spoken throughout Africa,” said Ortega, who holds a masters in telecommunication engineering and has more than 20 years’ experience in the Middle East IT sector.
“Government and industry stability is a key driver for us. We were looking to do business in Nigeria but there have been well-documented problems there recently. Now, however, countries like Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Namibia and, of course, South Africa, all offer possibilities.”